I entered 2014 setting my Resolution Words as Unabashedly and Imperfectly, two concepts I struggle with and feel hold me back. Here is the first in my series attempt to hash it out, become more self-aware, and open up.
A few week ago, I discovered the joys of Hold Requests at my local library.
Today, I learned the nonjoys of all 18 of your Hold Requests coming in at the same time and picking them up in a “wait what no I cant read all of these before their due date why am I so stupid” bout of shame.
When you are hurting, there will always be people who find a way to make it about themselves. If you break your wrist, they’ll complain about a sprained ankle. If you are sad, they’re sadder. If you’re asking for help, they’ll demand more attention.
Here is a fact: I was in a hospital and sobbing into my palms when a woman approached me and asked why I was making so much noise and I managed to stutter that my best friend shot himself in the head and now he was 100% certified dead and she made this little grunt and had the nerve to tell me, “Well now you made me sad.”
When you get angry, there are going to be people who ask you to shut up and sit down, and they’re not going to do it nicely. Theirs are the faces that turn bright red before you have a chance to finish your sentence. They won’t ask you to explain yourself. They’ll be mad that you’re mad and that will be their whole reason alone.
Here is a fact: I was in an alleyway a few weeks ago, stroking my friend’s back as she vomited fourteen tequila shots. “I hate men,” she wheezed as her sides heaved, “I hate all of them.”
I braided her hair so it wouldn’t get caught in the mess. I didn’t correct her and reply that she does in fact love her father and her little brother too, that there are strangers she has yet to meet that will be better for her than any of her shitty ex-boyfriends, that half of our group of friends identifies as male - I could hear each of her bruises in those words and I didn’t ask her to soften the blow when she was trying to buff them out of her skin. She doesn’t hate all men. She never did.
She had the misfortune to be overheard by a drunk guy in an ill-fitting suit, a boy trying to look like a man and leering down my dress as he stormed towards us. “Fuck you, lady,” he said, “Fuck you. Not all men are evil, you know.”
“Thanks,” I told him dryly, pulling on her hand, trying to get her inside again, “See you.”
He followed us. Wouldn’t stop shouting. How dare she get mad. How dare she was hurting. “It’s hard for me too!” he yowled after us. “With fuckers like you, how’s a guy supposed to live?”
Here’s a fact: my father is Cuban and my genes repeat his. Once one of my teachers looked at my heritage and said, “Your skin doesn’t look dirty enough to be a Mexican.”
When my cheeks grew pink and my tongue dried up, someone else in the classroom stood up. “You can’t say that,” he said, “That’s fucking racist. We could report you for that.”
Our teacher turned vicious. “You wanna fail this class? Go ahead. Report me. I was joking. It’s my word against yours. I hate kids like you. You think you’ve got all the power - you don’t. I do.”
Later that kid and I became close friends and we skipped class to do anything else and the two of us were lying on our backs staring up at the sky and as we talked about that moment, he sighed, “I hate white people.” His girlfriend is white and so is his mom. I reached out until my fingers were resting in the warmth of his palm.
He spoke up each time our teacher said something shitty. He failed the class. I stayed silent. I got the A but I wish that I didn’t.
Here is a fact: I think gender is a social construct and people that want to tell others what defines it just haven’t done their homework. I personally happen to have the luck of the draw and am the same gender as my sex, which basically just means society leaves me alone about this one particular thing.
Until I met Alex, who said he hated cis people. My throat closed up. I’m not good at confrontation. I avoided him because I didn’t want to bother him.
One day I was going on a walk and I found him behind our school, bleeding out of the side of his mouth. The only thing I really know is how to patch people up. He winced when the antibacterial cream went across his new wounds. “I hate cis people,” he said weakly.
I looked at him and pushed his hair back from his head. “I understand why you do.”
Here is a fact: anger is a secondary emotion. Anger is how people stop themselves from hurting. Anger is how people stop themselves by empathizing.
It is easy for the drunken man to be mad at my friend. If he says “Hey, fuck you, lady,” he doesn’t have to worry about what’s so wrong about men.
It’s easy for my teacher to fail the kids who speak up. If we’re just smart-ass students, it’s not his fault we fuck up.
It’s easy for me to hate Alex for labeling me as dangerous when I’ve never hurt someone a day in my life. But I’m safe in my skin and his life is at risk just by going to the bathroom. I understand why he says things like that. I finally do.
There’s a difference between the spread of hatred and the frustration of people who are hurting. The thing is, when you are broken, there will always be someone who says “I’m worse, stop talking.” There will always be people who are mad you’re trying to steal the attention. There will always be people who get mad at the same time as you do - they hate being challenged. It changes the rules.
I say I hate all Mondays but my sister was born on one and she’s the greatest joy I have ever known. I say I hate brown but it’s really just the word and how it turns your mouth down - the colour is my hair and my eyes and my favorite sweater. I say I hate pineapple but I still try it again every Easter, just to see if it stings less this year. It’s okay to be sad when you hear someone generalize a group you’re in. But instead of assuming they’re evil and filled with hatred, maybe ask them why they think that way - who knows, you might just end up with a new and kind friend.
”—By telling the oppressed that their anger is unjustified, you allow the oppression to continue. I know it’s hard to stay calm. I know it’s scary. But you’re coming from the safe place and they aren’t. Just please … Try to be more understanding. /// r.i.d (via inkskinned)
Instead, here is a list of ways 2014 is already turning out to being infinitely more amazing:
January 10th, we leave for a well-deserved Vegas Getaway to recoup from our 2013 hell.
February 1st, theboy returns to work after FIVE months of disability leave — to a higher, salaried position which means less financial stress, consistent hours, less physical labor, less exposure to chemicals, and less worry that he will end up in the hospital again. I could cry right now.
SCHOOL IS OVER which means no studying, less stress, more crafting, more ME.
The theme of 2013 was all-around-sucktastic. 4 ER trips with theboy and the multiple months of deteriorating health leading up to it, coupled with moving in together and other daily stresses…2013 nearly broke me, theboy, and our relationship.
But we survived. And we had a lot of good times too. And seeing as how he is now finally, FINALLY on the mend and I don’t foresee another ER trip in our future…this Thanksgiving, I know that I have so, so much to be thankful for. So, indulge me in my sap while I revel in the beauty of hope and happiness.
I am thankful for health. Yours, mine, theboy’s, my family’s. Everyone. This holiday had the potential to turn out very differently, a mental slippery slope I try not to go down. We are here. We are living. We are experiencing. We are blessed. So so blessed.
I am thankful for my job. There are understandable grumblings within every workplace and mine is no different. However, I’m grateful that everyone was understanding of my need to dash offat a moment’s notice, that I have medical insurance, that I have sick/vacation days, and that I am paid enough to have a substantial savings account that came into play when the medical bills started rolling in.
I am thankful for my second B.S. degree. While I still have two weeks to go, I have survived and am DONE. I learned so much about my future field and know I will make one kickass SLP one day (Grad Schools, please accept me?)
I am thankful for my relationship. Man, if we survived this year, ain’t nothing out there that can hold us down.
I am thankful for my friendships. We are not meant to go through pain alone and I am eternally thankful for those who sent cards, messages, texts, flowers, and emotional support through it all from near and afar. You guys make my heart so full.
I am not good with expressing my emotions. Be it human nature, the stoic Asian way, a brave face, whatever…apart from rage or hiding behind a computer screen, I’m horrible with it.
When it is a deep hurt, I used to role play some tragic way-more-dramatic-than-reality-but-the-pain-level-was-the-same scenario and through that, the tears would begin to flow.
I haven’t really done that since I met theboy. I haven’t needed to. The hurts have started to hurt less, yknow?
But here we are. Again. For the third time. Back at the hospital. Back to struggling with the but-you-just-stopped-the-antibiotics-and-just-said-he-would-be-okay. Back to fighting the battle of keeping our hopes up while the gut is sinking.
His mom was up for a promotion this month but is now going to pass it up because it’s just too much. I have been struggling with keeping my head afloat while working and schooling and grad-apping and trying to make sure theboy is okay while still doing me. And I too, am ready to throw in the towel on this grad-app round because it really. is. too. much.
I had a friend prod and ask why I was even applying this year, that it didn’t seem like I wanted it that much.
And you know what, maybe I don’t. If never getting into grad school and never becoming an SLP and working in my administrative position forever - if all of that meant Troy was healthy again and we were off this hellish ride, then maybe that’s all I need in my life.
After a telephonic panicked vent session to my mother over the stress of looming grad apps, (lack of) studying for the GRE next month and classes, gathering materials for Letters of Recs, and the fact that theboy is in the hospital yet again because of 2 mysterious blood infections the doctors are baffled on how to fix — this is what my mother gave me.
Words that are easier said than done and words that have been said before. But words that are getting me through today.
The biopsy results have yet to come out but all I am seeing is red right now.
Red because I’m tired of calming other people down.
Red because I’m tired of checking my phone and just seeing questions. I love the ‘praying/thinking of you’ ones but why are so many others just full of questions?
Red because I’m tired of advice on how I should be handling things. I’m sorry I haven’t (insert menial task here) because I’ve been worried my boyfriend is dying with cancer.
Red because I woke up this morning in a bed that has been empty for far too long.
Red because life has not stopped and I have to go into work tomorrow.
Red because his mother is offering for us to move in with her when the lease is up and woman, do you not understand how much I can’t deal with that right now.
Red because his mother volunteered to stay during a minor operation leaving me in the hallway with my frustration.
Red because I feel like my situation is belittled because I am only “girlfriend” and not “wife”. I am putting cream on his butt and we have not had sex in a month - if that’s not wife, I don’t know what is.
Red because I greatly, deeply miss my other half and there are tears that just need to be let out.
I walked home. I enjoyed the sunshine. I enjoyed the tranquility the walk produced, despite the sucky situation.
Fast forward to me walking into the apartment, raging because I was sweaty, hot and hangry. Theboy was still undressed, the spare key was nowhere to be found, AAA still hadn’t been called, the 5-day-old clean laundry was still sitting there, the dishes were piled up and ohyeah, I had to figure out how to get my keys.
But here is where I am ever so grateful for our beautiful relationship. He is calm and gives me the space needed for my steam to evaporate. I am able to bite my tongue from lashing words I don’t mean and apologize afterwards for being cranky.
Once my keys were freed, we grabbed dinner, held hands, and talked. Which, at the end of the day, is all I need. Life is good.
For the last eight years, there has been a particular album which has appeared on every mp3 device I’ve owned. My soul has always gravitated towards the hauntingly beautiful and this album was my crème de la crème. Every note, syllable, crescendo resonated deep within me..